We've got 33 days until the first pitcher and catcher report dates in Florida and Arizona, and so here, appropriately if not accurately, are 33 predictions for the rest of the winter. Some are substantive, some are speculative, some might be a little goofy. All of them are presented with the intent of making the wait for spring a little more tolerable.
1. The Rangers sign Jose Bautista. It's the kind of news we need at the start of 2017. Two bitter opponents coming together in unexpected (and incentive-laden) harmony -- for one year, at least. It would certainly be one of the most jarring news items of the Hot Stove season … though perhaps not quite as jarring as a Rougned Odor right hook to the face.
The Rangers could bring in Joey Bats as a right-handed complement to Shin-Soo Choo in right and Joey Gallo at first base, with the thought being that the three of those guys can rotate in and out of the DH spot. The more obvious fit might be Mike Napoli, but Bautista's down year (117 OPS+) compares favorably in some league- and park-adjusted respects to Napoli's big year (104). The Rangers would give up the No. 26 overall Draft pick, but take solace in the fact that they surrendered No. 19 overall in a one-year pact with Ian Desmond last year and saw that work out well.
Oh, and Bautista and Odor hug it out on the first day of Spring Training, while Rangers fans feel … confused.
2. White Sox pitchers and catchers report Feb. 14 … and Jose Quintana is among them. The Sox are attaching a Chris Sale-like price tag to Quintana, perhaps rightly so in this market and with Quintana under contractual control for a year beyond the control they had of Sale. As of yet, that price has not been met by the Astros, Pirates, Braves or any other teams involved in these discussions.
But Spring Training injuries or early season adversities could compel a club to rethink the situation. There would be risk in taking Quintana into the season, but Chicago would be wise to explore the extent of its leverage here.
3. Ivan Rodriguez falls agonizingly short of Hall of Fame entry. Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines get voted in, as expected, and Vlad Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman are very near-misses. But Rodriguez falls one stinking vote shy of induction, adding even more scrutiny to the bitter blank ballot famously submitted by Murray Chass and leading to the back-page headline, "Grudge smudges Pudge!"
(The Hall announcement show, by the way, begins at 3 p.m. ET on Jan. 18 on MLB Network.)
4. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens show up on roughly 60 percent of ballots. This would be about a 15-percent upswing from '16 and would provide reasonable belief that the two pariahs can gain entry into the Hall in 2018 or '19. Manny Ramirez, meanwhile, hovers in the 20-percent range in his first year on the ballot -- a previously undocumented side effect of female fertility drugs.
5. Speaking of Manny, he gets a new opponent. Fresh off the announcement that the Japanese independent Kochi Fighting Dogs have signed Ramirez, their bitter Shikoku Island League rivals -- the Tokushima Indigo Socks -- counter with a big addition of their own. Ladies and gentlemen, it's the return of Julio Franco!
6. More close Hall calls. A couple other eminently deserving candidates -- Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina -- see a jump from last year's vote totals but still must wait at least one more year, with Martinez now entering his penultimate year of eligibility on the BBWAA ballot.
7. The Orioles do, indeed, re-sign Mark Trumbo. You don't typically go from willing to give a guy upwards of $55 million one month to totally disinterested (and suddenly possessive of potential Draft pick compensation) the next. Despite Dan Duquette's recent public posturing, the O's wisely wait for Trumbo to lower his price tag and get him on a multiyear pact even more budget-friendly than their previous offer.
8. And Manny Machado signs an extension! Unfortunately for the O's, it's for his car warranty, not his player contract.
9. The Rockies go into camp with Desmond as their first baseman. Considering all the rumors that have tied the Rox to Trumbo and others in the wake of the Desmond deal -- and all the rampant speculation that they'll move Charlie Blackmon or Carlos Gonzalez to accommodate Desmond in the outfield -- this would surprise some people. It really shouldn't.
10. The Blue Jays sign Napoli. Well, look, I don't honestly expect this to happen, but after putting Bautista in Texas and Trumbo back in Baltimore, leaving the Rockies alone and recognizing that the A's deal with Trevor Plouffe could pull them out of the first-base market, I had to do something with Napoli.
If this happened, Steve Pearce would then see the bulk of his playing time in the corner outfield, which consists of platoons aplenty, while Justin Smoak becomes more of a bench bat. And it's Labatts all around for the Party at Napoli's.
11. The Blue Jays also sign Travis Wood. They need lefty relief, starting depth and corner outfield help. Wood, amazingly, is all of those things!
12. And the Blue Jays throw a Minor League contract at Edwin Jackson. Just to appease all those Toronto fans angry that they didn't "bring back Edwin." (Jackson was technically a Blue Jay for a few minutes in July 2011.)
13. The Angels sign Matt Wieters. With a catching depth chart that currently consists of Martin Maldonado and Carlos Perez, the Halos take advantage of Wieters' dissipating price tag and cement what has been a truly solid offseason, given the budget.
14. The Dodgers do something really boring at second base. Yes, they tried to land Brian Dozier but to this point haven't budged from their hesitance to give up much beyond Jose De Leon. The value the Dodgers place on their prospects will make a Logan Forsythe deal difficult to pull off, and Ian Kinsler's trade veto power (he'll likely want an extension if a deal is reached with the Dodgers) makes that an iffy proposition, at best.
So the guess here is that the Dodgers do what they have tended to do in the Andrew Friedman era and just prioritize depth and platoons. That could mean bringing back Chase Utley, or the Dodgers (who obviously need a right-handed bat) could take a chance on a similarly imperfect option like the left-handed-hitting Luis Valbuena (career .841 OPS vs. right-handers), who could be versatile enough to handle second on a part-time basis and pair with the right-handed Enrique Hernandez (.841 career OPS vs. lefties).
The gist of this is that the Dodgers could enter the season content that they have the trade resources to adjust in-season, if need be, and know that, even with a shaky second-base setup and a potential need in left field, there is objective reason to believe they are one of baseball's best teams on paper.
16. The Cubs convention is a love fest. The event is an opportunity for multi-generational Cubs fans to bask in the glow of the big victory and get their picture with the trophy. It's a special experience in which grandparents can bond with their grandkids … but enough about David Ross' attendance.
17. "Go Cubs Go" is sung at the White House. The Cubs will make their planned visit to President Barack Obama before he leaves office, not because of logistics and not in any way a slight at the upcoming transfer of power but, really, because it's still fun to rub the World Series win in the face of a White Sox fan.
18. Meanwhile, the Cubs land Tyson Ross. In the short-term, they give Ross the cushion he needs to rehab, and in the long-term he serves as a viable rotation weapon for a club that will likely want to be careful with innings allotments after a deep October run and, depending on the length of the deal, possibly valuable insurance if/when Jake Arrieta and John Lackey leave in free agency after '17.
19. In addition to Joey Bats, the Rangers sign Jason Hammel. Some clear medical red flags here, and that's why Hammel has lingered in the open market as long as he has. But the Rangers need the depth in their starting set.
20. The Nationals sign Greg Holland. He hasn't pitched since 2015 because of Tommy John and has lost a little zip on his fastball, but is actually a clear ninth-inning upgrade for Washington.
21. Alex Rodriguez announces his future plans. With A-Rod's spokesman having already told the New York Daily News that he plans to sit out the 2017 season, Rodriguez publicly clarifies further that he has no plans to suit up in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 or 2025, either. He does not, however, totally close the door on his age-50 season in 2026.
22. The White Sox sign Chris Carter. Because, even in the midst of a teardown, they still need to field a team in 2017. Carter comes aboard as a source of cheap power at the DH spot in a home park that suits his services.
23. Jake Peavy returns to the Padres. Ten years after his NL Cy Young Award season. Not to be outdone, the Twins throw a Minor League deal at Johan Santana and the Giants send Tim Lincecum a late-night, "You up?" text.
24. The Giants sign Michael Saunders. They're already over the luxury tax, but Saunders, even with his iffy injury history and 2016 fall-off in the second half, gives them a little more dependability in left field at a reasonable price. Saunders has a 1.583 OPS in his career at AT&T Park ... Well, OK, it's only in a three-game sample, but still!
25. The Phillies acquire Jay Bruce from the Mets. As was the case with the Clay Buchholz swap with the Red Sox, the Phils will take advantage of a contender looking to shed some salary to get themselves a bounceback candidate in his walk year, possibly flipping him midseason.
Bruce, like so many others, has found Citizens Bank Park to be a good place to hit, with a career .303/.363/.566 slash in 32 games there.
26. There will be random Spring Training invites to players you temporarily forgot existed. The Royals just recently gave out Minor League contracts to Jonathan Sanchez and Brandon League, neither of whom has pitched in the bigs since at least 2014. Let's keep the fun going. How about Rafael Soriano to the Tigers and Wily Mo Pena to basically anybody?
27. The Tigers sign Michael Bourn. He's a left-handed bat in a lineup loaded with righties, can still play a respectable center field, still offers a little bit of speed and won't cost much for a Tigers team spread thin financially. It's not a sexy signing, but, if only because of recent results, it's arguably more attractive than an Austin Jackson reunion.
28. Jerry Dipoto's friends stage an intervention. Trading addiction. It can happen on Wall Street, and it can happen in the Hot Stove. Dipoto, as of this writing, has made an average of one trade every 6.6 days since the beginning of November. Somebody needs to wake him, shake him, tell him, "You're good enough, your roster is good enough. Put the phone down!"
(In all seriousness, Dealin' Dipoto might finally be ready to rest, as his frantic wheeling and dealing has put together a really attractive club.)
29. The Royals sign Brandon Moss. They've pared down their payroll a little bit and probably have a few bucks to spend on some cheap power. Moss could provide it and pair with the right-handed-hitting Cheslor Cuthbert in the DH spot while occasionally filling in at first base and in the corner outfield.
30. The Pirates sign Brett Anderson. OK, he's no Quintana. But he's left-handed and he's the prototypical Pirate reclamation project, after missing the vast majority of 2016 with a back issues. When healthy, the soon-to-be-29-year-old Anderson is a groundball machine.
31. The Marlins sign Jerry Blevins or Boone Logan (take your pick). Because it's hard to have a "super bullpen" without a single left-hander.
32. David Ortiz reveals he'll play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. And he "announces" it with a blank tweet to D.R. general manager Moises Alou.
33. "Truck Day" gets everybody giddy. Well, except for all those remaining free agents, who ask if they can at least get paid to help load up the equipment.
Anthony Castrovince is a Sports on Earth contributor, MLB.com columnist and MLB Network contributor. Follow him on Twitter @Castrovince.